The Food and Drug Administration has issued a final decision to reclassify sunlamp products and ultraviolet or UV lamps used in indoor tanning salons.
The federal agency has changed the labeling requirements from low-risk to moderate-risk devices. They are also requiring the products carry a black box, visible to consumers, that states the products should not be used on people under age 18. Although a black box is the FDA’s strongest warning, this does not outlaw or restrict these devices for minors.
According to the FDA, the lamps emit UV radiation that may cause skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology says studies have shown people who have been exposed to UV rays from indoor tanning have a 59% increase of developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
“The FDA has taken an important step today to address the risk to public health from sunlamp products,” said Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Repeated UV exposure from sunlamp products poses a risk of skin cancer for all users, but the highest risk for skin cancer is in young persons under the age of 18 and people with a family history of skin cancer.”
Representatives for the Indoor Tanning Association, which represents indoor tanning manufacturers and distributors across the country, said they believe the FDA is responding to pressure from certain interest groups to put stronger regulations on indoor tanning beds.
“I just don’t think the science is there,” said John Overstreet, executive director of the association. “I think it’s blown out of proportion. We are obviously disappointed in the FDA’s latest moves.”
The association’s website promotes indoor tanning’s “well-known side effect” of exposing skin to UV light as producing more vitamin D, which “plays an important role in maintaining good health.” It suggests the “health benefits of indoor tanning deserve further research.“
In 2009, the World Health Organization classified tanning beds as “carcinogenic to humans.”
Skin cancer experts say it is about time these changes be put into effect.